Many freelancers have a running fantasy: landing the Dream Client.

Perhaps it’s a giant, international brand name. Perhaps it’s a cutting-edge, creatively-driven boutique. Maybe the gig pays a fantastic amount of money, or offers incredible flexibility.

It varies from freelancer to freelancer, but there’s a big commonality; many don’t know how to find their dream gig, or have given up hope that it exists altogether.

How do you turn a Dream Client... into reality?

Start independently

You cannot find your dream client until you know what your dream is. What you need is specifics.

Too often, we land gigs and THEN start defining what our ideal job would be. We mostly do this by running smack into things that make us unhappy – and by the time we’ve identified what we DON’T want, we’re stuck.

Head off dissatisfaction by figuring out what you – independent of any client or demand – would want in the perfect job. Since this is just imaginary, don’t be afraid to indulge in completely unrealistic speculation. Our wildest fantasies often teach us something valuable about our desires.

For instance, if your ideal job involves “no meetings, lots of volleyball games”, you may be looking for an offsite, largely independent freelance gig in a company that encourages creativity.

What do you love about your freelance work? What do you hate? You may not find a gig or client that matches ALL of your parameters, but identifying what makes you happy can help you move closer to your dream client and their dreamy gigs.

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Refine your tools

Start your quest for a more fulfilling freelance life by shaping yourself into your own “hero freelancer” – the freelancer you’d like to be, who lands those dream jobs.

Take a look at your materials. I’m sure that your portfolio reflects the best work you HAVE done, but does it reflect the work you WANT to do? Start curating your application materials to weed out work that doesn’t interest you, and focus on the work that does.

This may be a gradual process – you may still have to keep in some mundane bread-and-butter materials until you’ve landed more dream gigs – but start thinking of your resume and portfolio not only as a map of where you’ve been, but also where you want to go.

Look around

Now that you’ve mapped out specific parameters for your dream job and sharpened up your materials, it’s time to take a look around.

Start talking to other freelancers; offer to buy them lunch in exchange for some brainstorming. Do some casual Google-stalking. Try plugging in specific search terms for the kind of job you want “home+freelance+editing.” Put out a call on social media. Tap into your network.

Be clear about what you’re looking for, but open to new opportunities – a dream client may come in a slightly different form than you envisioned.

This may be a time of trial and error: you may still land some disappointing clients, be forced to take some lame gigs to pay the bills, or search fruitlessly for a spell. But your dream client exists. What’s more, they’re looking for you. You are, in fact, their dream freelancer (that’s why it’s such a perfect match)!

You just have to find them – and the journey itself will teach you a lot about what you need, what you want, and how to get it.

Kate Shea lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.